Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Tampa Florida—More Naturally

Bert Gildart: Because our time is growing short here at Bay Bayou, we have put local travel into overdrive, and have made several grand discoveries–essentially for photography.

Within a short drive of Bay Bayou there are a number of parks that are managed either as county or as state parks.

One of those parks requires 20-minute drive, the other about a five-minute drive. The highlight of both parks are their natural history features and one of those is yet further protected because you can reach it only by boat.

With regard to Caladesi Island State Park you can reach it by private sail boat, by a charter—or you can do as we did and use kayaks, which Nancy Zatkoff, Bob Feely, Janie and I all swear by.

At times, kayaking here can be a challenge, and several days ago when we launched our kayaks for Caladesi, the wind was blowing hard. However, on the way back, we had the wind to our backs, and time spent paddling was literally cut in half.

Caladesi is well known for its nesting population of sea turtles and for its shore birds, and when we were there we saw turtles (not sea turtles) and we saw an abundance of shore birds. Most notably, we saw the black skimmer, a bird whose lower mandible is longer than its upper mandible, something unique in the world of birds.

Skimmers use their unique design to literally “skim” along the surface of the water and scoop up various species of fish.

A series of trails thread throughout Caladedsi, passing along stands of mangroves and eventually taking you to a dock adjacent to the park’s visitor center and a landing spot for kayaks and for charter boats.

The other park is a county park and is located almost within our back yard. In fact, we could launch a kayak in Double Branch Creek, located about 50 yards from our trailer, and then follow the creek for about a mile and very quickly be at Upper Tampa Bay Park.

Today, however, we made the short drive to the park, and walked several of its trails. Beneath a tree draped with tendrils of moss, we saw an armadillo, which quickly vanished beneath dense stands of mangroves.

As well, we saw several squirrels that begged to be photographed.

Then, we poked our head into the museum, which provides thorough interpretations of the local geology, as well as the flora and the fauna.

Several aquariums contained bees while another contained live snakes.

For someone looking for a glimpse into lands that can claim to be Florida naturally, either of the two parks serve well. Combine that with all the other county and state parks in the area, and you can immerse yourself into most any style of life you might like.

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